Guilty was the verdict handed down from the jury, a jury in which I was a member. The case? A difficult story of a young man, who seemed to have started with all the finest of intentions, but ended up guilty of a crime he never imagined he was capable of committing. And because of poor decisions, his life was forever altered. Tears shed, a family left in disbelief, and broken pieces of a life lay scattered along a path of deception and constant surrender to the wrong influences.
That’s usually how it happens. One decision, seemingly insignificant, leads to another, and before we know it, we find ourselves in a place we never thought possible. Looking back it’s easy to see the crossroads, the danger signs placed in plain view, warning us to stay straight. But many times we ignore those warnings and continue to chase our own desires, our own passions, thinking that all will turn out okay. One wrong turn leads to another, and before we know it we’ve lost our way and were in a place we don’t need to be. Choices. We make them every day. Some good. Some not so good.
I can’t tell you how many choices I’ve made that I wish I could revisit. I am guilty, and most likely you can relate. We’re guilty. Maybe not to the degree of the young man on trial, but our actions have been offensive to those closest to us, and more importantly to our Savior. And our choices have put us in places we never should have been. We are all guilty of the spiritual cancer of sin. Romans 3:23 says we all have sinned and fallen short of God’s best for us. And that cancer eats away at our spiritual life, to the point that if we let it go unchecked, unconfessed, we die inside. And we soon learn that the separation it causes between us and God is too much to bridge on our own.
Oh, but there is hope…
“If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” –I John 1:8-9
Yes, there is hope for all who will trust in the One who became the once-for-all sacrifice for sin. Apart from the cross of Jesus Christ, and our faith in Him, we have no way of approaching a holy God, no possible way of shedding our guilt. No works of our own, no philosophy, no religion, not by science or reasoning will we ever gain His acceptance. But by His grace, through our faith, and our surrendering to His authority over our lives, we can confidently know we belong to Him. And when we arrive at that place, when we have said yes to His invitation, we are pronounced blameless! He becomes our defense, our advocate (I John 2:1) to the Father. No more guilt! Simply defined, that’s grace. And it’s all because of the work of Jesus on that cross, not my work. That’s my hope! And it can be yours too!
The jury is in. Innocent is the verdict for all who are in Christ. Go ahead, live free!
“He (Jesus) will keep you strong to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God, who called you into fellowship with His Son Jesus Christ our Lord, is faithful.” -I Corinthians 1:8-9
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